Over the last four decades, Thailand has moved from being a low-income country to an upper-middle-income country, with sustained strong growth and impressive poverty reduction - from 67% in 1986 to 7.1% in 2015. While only 12% of Thailand’s GDP derives from agriculture (alongside 45% from industry and 43% from services) about 42% of the working population makes a living from the land. Just over half the population lives in rural areas; about 8.5 million of Thailand’s 36 million urban residents live in informal settlements.
Thailand’s longstanding land laws define land as either private or public (vested in the state). Principles of customary law continue to govern in some areas and issues in rural districts. Roughly 63% of the country’s 30 million parcels of land and nearly 90% of land transactions are registered, and Thailand’s land administration system is considered a model for others to follow. Thailand’s formal law promotes principles of equality in land ownership or control. However, in rural areas, knowledge of the formal law is limited, and men tend to have control over ownership and management of agricultural land.